Sen. Bob Menendez is facing his second federal corruption trial in a decade, as he stands accused of accepting bribes, including gold bars and luxury cars, from businesses with ties to foreign countries. Jury selection began Monday.

The charges filled with conspiracy entanglement

The 70-year-old New Jersey Democrat, along with his wife, Nadine Menendez, face charges of accepting bribes from three wealthy businessmen.

The accusations against Menendez’s and his wife’s indictment include accepting gold bars, cash and other luxurious items from New Jersey businessmen Fred Daibes, Wael Hana and Jose Uribe in exchange for multiple favors, including interfering in criminal investigations and secretly helping the governments of Egypt and Qatar, according to Fox News.

The Associated Press reported, “FBI agents who searched the senator’s New Jersey home found a stash of gold bars, worth more than $100,000, and more than $486,000 in cash, some of it stuffed into the pockets of clothing hanging in his closets.”

According to the 39-page indictment, which covers claims from 2018-2022, Menendez and his wife, Nadine, are charged with three counts — conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and conspiracy to commit extortion.

The three businessmen are also charged with conspiracy.

According to the indictment, Hana and Nadine Menedez were friends for years before she married Sen. Menendez. Hanna and Nadine allegedly worked together connecting Menendez with Egyptian officials who would help Hana’s company.

Menendez, at the time, was involved in senior roles within the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — a position with power over foreign military aid — and participated in meetings with Hana’s contacts within the Egyptian military. Through these interactions, Menendez played a part in directing U.S. military sales and aid to Egypt. Prosecutors alleged that this arrangement resulted in Hana’s company becoming the sole entity authorized to certify U.S. food exports to Egypt in accordance with halal standards, as reported by CNN.

The indictment further claims that Daibes provided gold bars and cash to Menendez and his spouse as part of facilitating a multimillion-dollar agreement with a Qatari investment fund. This action allegedly influenced Menendez to advocate for the interests of the Qatari government.

One of the New Jersey businessmen, Jose Uribe, has pled guilty and will testify against Menendez in the corruption trial. He says he bought Menendez’s wife a Mercedes Benz in order to get the senator’s help in a criminal investigation involving Uribe’s business associates.

CNN reported that Sen. Mendez told CNN’s Manu Raju, “I am looking forward to proving my innocence,” when he was asked about the future trial.

Menendez’s defense

“According to prosecutors, after search warrants were executed on the Menendezes’ home — where gold bars and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash were found — and elsewhere, the senator and his wife attempted to cover up the bribes by paying back the businessmen for the mortgage and luxury car, claiming they were merely loans,” as reported by CNN

The indictment continues to say Menendez was unaware of the mortgage and car payments. A possible defense may be implying that his wife, Nadine, withheld information from her husband and is guilty, according to Fox News.

Menendez’s attorneys have also said they may call a psychiatrist to the stand to suggest the cash and gold bars have to do with his intergenerational trauma related to his family’s history of having goods confiscated in Cuba, per Fox News.

His alleged family trauma has led to fears of scarcity, which would explain his unusual coping mechanisms, as reported by CNN.

The history of Menendez

Menendez has a history of corruption allegations. According to Fox News, in 2015 he faced charges on allegations involving a wealthy Florida eye doctor who allegedly tried to buy the senator’s influence through expensive vacations and campaign donations. Menendez claimed his innocence, denying all charges and made a commitment to remain in the Senate. The trial resulted in a hung Jury back in 2017. He maintained his congressional seat and was reelected.

Unlike 2015, this year, several members of his party have encouraged Menendez to resign. He announced he would not run again as a Democrat for Senate in New Jersey, but he has been steadfast in denying any wrongdoing and has kept open the possibility of running as an independent after his trial.

“For years, forces behind the scenes have repeatedly attempted to silence my voice and dig my political grave,” Menendez said in a statement about the indictment according to CBS News. “Since this investigation was leaked nearly a year ago, there has been an active smear campaign of anonymous sources and innuendos to create an air of impropriety where none exists.”

He continued, “I have been falsely accused before because I refused to back down to the powers that be and the people of New Jersey were able to see through the smoke and mirrors and recognize I was innocent,” per CBS News.